I have come across many subs over the years (both male and female) that struggle with depression, myself included. I'm not going to debate if the root of this is purely chemical, based upon life experiences, or the combination of both, but it makes me wonder a bit about what factors tend to contribute towards someone being submissive. It sometimes seems that many of the factors that lead to depression may also contribute towards submission. However, I have met a good number of subs that don't experience any type of depression, so I could be way off base.
I do think for subs who do struggle with depression it can be a tough cycle to break out of, especially if you also strive to be an excellent submissive to your Dominant.
While in a perfect world, all of us could leave our baggage at the door when we enter into a D/s lifestyle relationship. Unfortunately, this isn't really the case as our baggage usually helps shape who we are and it's not something that is easy to escape from. If/when depression raises its ugly head, it can be incredibly difficult for a sub to remain on task and be as focused as they want to be. It can be even more difficult if this happens due to factors that cause a sharp decline in the amount of quality time they are able to spend together.
From my experiences, I've found it very difficult to "keep it together" when my depression flares up. Feelings of self-pity or self-loathing can consume my better intentions leading to failure in anticipating my Mistress' needs. When this happens and she becomes displeased it often results in me sinking deeper into the depression and causing more difficulties as it goes on. If this causes her to isolate me or push me away, its effects are even stronger.
In a couple of my previous relationships I have had Mistresses that have been incredibly strict and wished to keep me in a high strung and borderline fearful state. This was especially difficult during times when my depression was flaring up since it seemed to cause a cycle of negative thoughts running through me at all times: frustration at myself for failing to adequately meet her needs, loss of pride in my submission, etc.
I have found a few ways that seem to help "snap me out" of the depression that may work for others. I hate to think of myself as overly needy but I think everyone has times where they need reassurance that they are loved, cared for, and appreciated.
One method that has worked for me in the past is a two-stage process. The first step is to have an intense punishment session. During this session I am scolded errors and flaws are pointed out to me while I am physically punished for my mistakes and transgressions. Near the end of this session (or during the aftercare) I am reassured that I am cared for and that she values me highly enough to continue my training and ensure that I will be able to meet her needs and take (something that resembles) pride in being a good sub. The scolding helps bring the guilt to the surface while the punishment helps to purge the guilt. Once the punishment has been served, the slate is wiped clean.
The second step involves an increased level of strictness towards my performance but with an increased level of compassion towards me. Mistakes are pointed out immediately (to be punished all at once at a later time) and then I'm given the chance to try again until I get it right and a reminder that I should be improving every day. This keeps me focused on her needs while keeping me free from the failure cycle I had written about earlier.
If life is preventing us from being this openly D/s in our day to day living, a couple of days of a more vanilla-feeling relationship can usually do the trick. While I will still have my responsibilities as a sub, some quality time will be spent together in more of a snuggly way.
I realize after writing all of this that it's likely that I probably come off as rather pathetic and sad, but I hope that it doesn't. Realistically, I tend to battle depression for about 6 weeks each year, usually in 2-3 week stretches at a time. However, those 6 weeks are often the most difficult times for both my Mistress and I so I figure it was worth writing about and trying to figure it out.
Has anyone else out there gone through troubles with this?